Daily Archives: June 2, 2013

(NC Register) US Catholic Bishops Say Grave Concerns Remain Over Obama Drone War

The United States has entered a new phase in the war against al Qaeda and its allies, drawing down from its large-scale combat operations in Afghanistan and moving to more targeted counterterrorism operations where military attack drones will play a major role.

However, the U.S. bishops are now warning increased U.S. dependence on military attack drones for “targeted killings” pose serious moral questions that President Barack Obama, Congress and the U.S. public must consider.

Bishop Richard Pates, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote a May 17 letter to the White House stating that the military use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or “drones” in certain cases appeared to “violate the law of war, international human-rights law and moral norms.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Terrorism, Theology

(LA Times) One man's defiance inspires a region to stand up to the Taliban

The uprising began in early February with a Taliban commander’s knock on the door of Hajji Abdul Wudood.

The militant leader demanded that Wudood, a stout, weathered man of 60, surrender one of his eight sons, who was accused of spying on the Taliban for the Afghan government.

What Wudood did next triggered a revolt against the Taliban that has spread to a dozen villages in a region that has been among the nation’s most formidable Taliban strongholds.

Fed up with beheadings and homemade bombs that killed 60 people in two villages the previous year, Wudood refused to hand over 25-year-old Abdul Hanan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan

(A Leader from The Scotsman) Tackling online pornography

Yet, there is a dark and deeply troubling side to the web. The very unshackled freedom of expression and communication ”“ the revolutionary, even noble, principles on which it was founded ”“ has allowed a despicable underworld of sickening pornography and violent depravity to grow up virtually unregulated.

Those who take an extreme libertarian view would say that this downside of the web, while unpleasant, is a price worth paying for the enormous freedoms the internet brings all of us. However, such an argument cannot be sustained when viewed in the light of heinous murder cases, including, most recently, that of schoolgirl April Jones. Police officers found that Mark Bridger, who murdered five-year-old April, had numerous indecent images on his computer He had also views violent sexual scenes. There is a pattern here. Stuart Hazell, who killed 12-year-old Tia Sharp, regularly downloaded child abuse images on his mobile phone. And such cases do not only involve children. Jane Longhurst was 31 when she was murdered by extreme-pornography obsessive Graham Coutts.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Pornography, Scotland, Sexuality, Violence

(Globe and Mail) Lysiane Gagnon–Same Sex marriage? In France, c’est compliqué

Why did gay marriage meet such resistance in France, when the same law was passed with little opposition in other liberal democracies ”“ even in traditionally Catholic societies such as Spain, Portugal and Quebec?

France is distinct. Despite its image as a country of free-thinkers and libertines (which it is, in part), France remains a conservative country where family links are extremely strong. The family Sunday lunch is a sacred ritual and it’s not uncommon to see three generations vacationing together.

Contrary to Quebec, where a majority of children are born to unmarried couples, most French middle-class couples get married as soon as they’re having their first child, which will likely be followed by two siblings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

A.S. Haley on what the Details of the Quincy/TEC Lawsuit reveal about the so-called "Accord"

It’s a rather neat set-up, don’t you think? Get the uneasy bishops to face disciplinary charges, and then soft-soap them with promises of full (well, almost) confidentiality. And then disregard the terms of the Accord entirely, thereby letting the accused bishops know that nothing, absolutely nothing, will stand in the way of intimidating them to whatever extent may be necessary to keep them silent.

In other words, despite your own contempt for the language of the Accord, continue to hold it over them, to intimidate them from attempting to commit such an outrageous act of disloyalty ever again. And if the bishops allow that continuing intimidation to affect their actions, then I pray for them, and for the future of a Church that is in such cynical and calculating hands.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Polity & Canons

(RCR) Jeffrey Weiss–Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

Religions and cultures with which we are unfamiliar are a lot harder to understand than most of us think. I suspect that most Americans would answer the question “Is Buddhism a religion of peace?” with a yes. The Dalai Lama, Richard Gere, and so on. Even the battling Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Kaine from the old TV series Kung Fu was as peaceful as people would let him be.

But this very day, Buddhists in Burma are accused of violent oppression of Muslims, no less than “ethnic cleansing.” And history includes plenty of examples of violence in the name of Buddhism.

Is Buddhism a religion of peace? It can be.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane leads prayer March against Drugs

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane joined the Eldorado community in its battle against drugs.

“We will defeat this demon,” she told members of the Anglican church in a prayer march in Eldorado Park on Sunday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry

(NY Times Op-Ed) Ross Douthat–Prisoners of the Euro

But right now, the E.U. project isn’t advancing democracy, liberalism and human rights. Instead, it is subjecting its weaker member states to an extraordinary test of their resilience, and conducting an increasingly perverse experiment in seeing how much stress liberal norms can bear.

That stress takes the form of mass unemployment unseen in the history of modern Europe, and mass youth unemployment that is worse still. In the Continent’s sick-man economies, the jobless rate for those under 25 now staggers the imagination: over 40 percent in Italy, over 50 percent in Spain, and over 60 percent in Greece.

For these countries, the euro zone is now essentially an economic prison, with Germany as the jailer and the common currency as the bars. No matter what happens, they face a future of stagnation ”” as aging societies with expensive welfare states whose young people will sit idle for years, unable to find work, build capital or start families.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Euro, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

TEC Diocese of Upper South Carolina to allow for Same Sex Blessings Under Certain Conditions

Read the whole letter to Christ Church Episcopal, Greenville here. It is interesting that given a choice the rector of the largest parish in the diocese will not allow such blessings in the parish in which he serves.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Website and resource to be aware of–The U.S. Congregational Life Survey

Read it all and check out the many links if you have not seen it.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(The Item) 1 year after fire, A Sumter, South Carolina, Methodist Church looks to start anew

The fire caused an estimated $950,000 in structural damage, which doesn’t include the cost of the property damage lost in the contents of the church. It would have been a formidable sum to a relatively small congregation, but the church’s insurance will cover the cost of the new construction, Bolin said.

A construction crew was on site Friday, digging the footings for the building’s foundations. Ted Hardy, a job supervisor with Jackson/Sims Architects, said the new facility will resemble the original building.

“It will look like a traditional Southern church,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

(NY Times Op-Ed) Erin Callan–Is There Life After Work?

I don’t have children, so it might seem that my story lacks relevance to the work-life balance debate. Like everyone, though, I did have relationships ”” a spouse, friends and family ”” and none of them got the best version of me. They got what was left over.

I didn’t start out with the goal of devoting all of myself to my job. It crept in over time. Each year that went by, slight modifications became the new normal. First I spent a half-hour on Sunday organizing my e-mail, to-do list and calendar to make Monday morning easier. Then I was working a few hours on Sunday, then all day. My boundaries slipped away until work was all that was left.

Inevitably, when I left my job, it devastated me. I couldn’t just rally and move on. I did not know how to value who I was versus what I did. What I did was who I was.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Theology, Women

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Heavenly Father, who hast given us a commandment, that we should believe on the name of thy Son Jesus Christ, and love one another: Give us also grace to keep this commandment, that we may evermore dwell in thee, and thou in us, in the power of thy Holy Spirit; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“You shall therefore love the LORD your God, and keep his charge, his statutes, his ordinances, and his commandments always.
And consider this day (since I am not speaking to your children who have not known or seen it), consider the discipline of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm,
his signs and his deeds which he did in Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land;
and what he did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red Sea overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the LORD has destroyed them to this day;
and what he did to you in the wilderness, until you came to this place;
and what he did to Dathan and Abi’ram the sons of Eli’ab, son of Reuben; how the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households, their tents, and every living thing that followed them, in the midst of all Israel;
for your eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD which he did.
“You shall therefore keep all the commandment which I command you this day, that you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land which you are going over to possess,
and that you may live long in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give to them and to their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey.
For the land which you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it with your feet, like a garden of vegetables;
but the land which you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven,
a land which the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

–Deuteronomy 11:1-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Elizabeth Prodromou and Alexandros Kyrou–Turkey's Continuing Siege against Christians

The conventional portrayal of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, has been built on the political canard that the secularist principles of the Republic of Turkey were a deliberate turn away from the Islamic theocracy of the Ottoman Empire. The reality is quite different. In fact, Turkey’s founding moment involved the genocide of two-and-a-half million Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Christians in Ottoman Anatolia and Asia Minor–in short, most of the remaining Orthodox Christian population that had survived from Byzantine Christian times.

In some ways, Ankara’s policies against Turkey’s Christian citizens have added a modern veneer and sophisticated brutality to Ottoman norms and practices. Pogroms, persecution, and discrimination have been visited on Turkey’s Christians. The Turkish press revealed only weeks ago that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was the target of an assassination conspiracy (the second such plot against his life in four years), and the constant threats and interference in the affairs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox community have led to the near extinction of that ancient Christian community. In the words of an anonymous Church hierarch in Turkey fearful for the life of his flock, Christians in Turkey are an endangered species. The siege of Constantinople continues today, 560 years after the fall on May 29th, 1453.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Turkey

(CT) Calvin College's New President Michael Le Roy on the Biggest Theological Issue Today

The biggest issue is, what does it mean to be obedient to Christ? Before any specific issue is really the posture of the heart toward Christ, and how we encourage a spirit of obedience among 18-year-olds who perhaps up until this point, their experience of faith has been youth group.

All of the language of serious, committed faith is obedience language””take up the cross and follow. It’s the cost of discipleship. It’s not pretty stuff that you can make nice. It’s pretty rugged stuff, but that’s the gospel. Theologically, how do we convey that truth in a graceful way and not water it down? Then that has implications for all the other issues.

Of course every Christian college president is worried about this, but homosexuality is a very real issue for campuses. We have gay and lesbian students here. I have met with them. I have talked with them. They are Christians and they are trying to figure out, “What does this mean? How do I live?”

The Scripture that I need to be obedient to leads me to the conclusion that marriage is a relationship between man and woman, and sexuality is to be used in that context.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Young Adults

(Wall St. Journal Front Page) What Sequester? Washington Booms as a New Gilded Age Takes Root

The sprawling compound [of Norton Manor] is a product of Washington’s Gilded Age””a time of lush business profits initially fueled by government outsourcing and war. Some demographers predicted the boom here would ebb as federal spending shrank amid troop withdrawals from the Middle East and efforts to trim the deficit.

Instead, the region has shown surprising resilience, thanks to an economy that has steadily broadened beyond the government. More than a generation of heavy federal spending, it turns out, has provided the seed money for a Washington economy that now operates globally””less tied to the vicissitudes of the capital’s political rhythms.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues